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Toxic ship rejected by UK coming to India

Toxic ship rejected by UK coming to India

New Delhi: Even as the Supreme Court (SC) is yet to consider a plea asking for marching orders to highly toxic Platinum-II from Bhavnagar, another contaminated vessel, Margaret Hill, is on its way to India.

The 36-year-old liquefied natural gas carrier measuring 87,600 cubic metres was once a candidate for a floating LNG project. But it has been sold to Dubai-based Agro Systems and is heading towards the ship-breaking yard in Alang, Gujarat.

Sources say that the UK’s Environment Agency (EA) had, in the past, detained the ship on the grounds that it couldn’t be sold to a country for breaking, which is outside the purview of European law.

The ship was released after its former owners gave assurances that it was going to be taken to Dubai for a conversion job.

Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA) activist Gopal Krishna has dashed a letter to Dr Dalip Singh, who heads the inter-ministerial committee on ship-breaking and the Union steel ministry, seeking immediate action to stop the ship’s entry.

The SC will hear Krishna’s application on the illegal stay of Platinum-II on February 26.

Under the existing laws, ships containing hazardous material can only be dismantled at properly authorised dismantling facilities in either the EU or an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country, Krishna says.

While the ship has been “off the radar” for a few weeks, electronic data made available in the past few days showed it positioned off the Dubai coast, says Krishna referring to authentic reports.
Environmental, labour and human rights groups in the UK are following the British government’s actions to persuade Jebel Ali port authorities in Dubai to detain the ship.

By its laws, the UK must recall the vessel and warn the Indian authorities of any imminent breach of the Basel Convention and violation of the European Waste Shipment Regulation. The UK must request India to deny Margaret Hill entry into its territorial waters.

Moreover, under the European Waste Shipment Regulations, the European Commission will ask the UK to recall the ship, and contact the Indian and United Arab Emirate Basel Focal Points to arrest the ship before it sneaks into the Indian waters, where the authorities concerned are likely to welcome this asbestos-laden ship.

Rakesh Bhatnagar / DNA
February 25, 2010

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